City OKs additional school resource officer

City OKs  additional  school  resource officerBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Department of Justice has awarded Kern County Public Health with a tobacco grant, $286,092 of which will come to Ridgecrest. Police Chief Jed McLaughlin presented the information to the Ridgecrest City Council last week and reported that most of the funding would go for a third school resource officer.

The grant will be awarded over three years at $90,823 per year in personnel services and $4,542 per year in administrative costs. The goal of the grant is to reduce youth tobacco consumption.

According to McLaughlin’s report, Kern County’s youth tobacco use rate of 15.4 percent is slightly higher than the state average of 13.8 percent. He also reported that 63 percent of senior students reported having used e-cigarettes at some point.

He added that of the 28 tobacco retailers in Ridgecrest, seven are within 1,000 feet of a school and 17 are near “youth-sensitive areas” like parks and recreation facilities.

The goal of the grant is to provide education and outreach to students, parents, school staff and retailers, as well as to enforce tobacco restrictions, including mandatory training for non-compliant retailers.

“A lot of it is just reminding them of the laws,” said McLaughlin. “Clerks come and go, so the new ones don’t know what they’re allowed to do and what the laws are.”

The grant will help the department conduct dozens of retailer contacts and follow-ups in an effort to be proactive about curbing youth tobacco use.

There are already two SROs assigned to Sierra Sands Unified School District, which brings the total to three officers dividing their time between middle and high school campuses.

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Pictured: Chief Jed McLaughlin finds a grant to fund new resource officer. -- News Review file photo

Story First Published: 2020-05-15